Pushing Boundary-Free GroupLife

Page 20 of 203

Dilbert on Excuses

Sometimes you just need a laugh.

excuses large

You can see the rest of my Dilbert selections right here.

Bill Hybels – Coffee with God

bill hybels coffee with GodOne of my convictions is that whatever you want to happen in the lives of the members of your groups, must happen first in the lives of your leaders. Isn’t this a no-brainer? And as a result, this conviction informs the work you do “training” your small group coaches and leaders. If you want the members of your groups to experience certain things, you make sure your coaches and leaders have already had (or are having) those experiences. See also, Model What You to Happen at the Member Level.

Spending time with God every day is one of the most essential things I want every member to experience. In order to encourage that in the lives of the members of our groups I’ve begun sharing this video with our coaches (and will soon be asking our leaders to share it with their groups).

Can’t see the video? You can watch it right here.

My friend Mac Lake posted a great set of discussion questions for this video. You can see them right here.

2974862_91bebf1e6d_z“Spiritual formation for the Christian basically refers to the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself.” Dallas Willard, Living a Transformed Life Adequate to Our Calling

Image by F.Y.

How to Build Volunteer Teams that Expand Your Ministry

teamsIn yesterday’s post I gave 7 tips that will help optimize your small group ministry. Tip #3 was to Make identifying and recruiting a volunteer team of men and women who are passionate about small groups part of what you do all the time.

I went on to write that “some of the most enthusiastic potential volunteers are not leaders of leaders (or even leaders).” I went on to write, “if you can’t figure out how to use them, spend an afternoon creating an org chart for your ideal small group ministry.”

One of the books that helped shape my thinking about ministry was The E-Myth by Michael Gerber (now available in a revised edition called The E-Myth Revisited). A business book, it is packed with takeaways that directly apply to what we do.

One of the ideas I got from The E-Myth was that the way to build the organization you’ll need tomorrow is to start today by charting out the org chart for the organization you’ll need sooner than later. That’s right. Take the time to draw the org chart in the way it would be drawn if you had plenty of help…already.

And I’m not the only one who picked up on this idea. I’ve heard Andy Stanley talk about being inspired by The E-Myth and doing the same thing at the very beginning of North Point.

Here’s how to do it:

Start by listing all of the individual tasks that you’re doing to keep things running. This list might give you a hint or two:

  • Recruiting small group leaders
  • Training new small group leaders
  • Coaching small group leaders
  • Following up on indications of interest in joining a small group (whether they’re coming in via the bulletin, phone, or in person)
  • Reviewing new small group studies and updating the recommended list
  • Training existing small group leaders
  • Planning training events to train small group leaders
  • Collecting life-change stories to pass on to your senior pastor
  • etc.

Next, begin to drop these individual roles into the format of an org chart. Keep in mind that right now your name might be in most of the boxes!  Here’s an example.

Finally, begin looking for people who would be great at the individual roles. You won’t find them all at once. You’ll find them one at a time. You’ll need a job description and a way to supervise every role. It will take some work. But when you find them, every one you find will begin to delegate away the things that could be done by volunteers or additional staff. And it will leave you doing what only you can do!

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Image by Dawn Manser

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

7 Tips that Will Help Optimize Your Small Group Ministry

15894436305_29152fc7fd_cRegardless of your small group ministry model, there are a few things you can do to optimize your small group ministry.

Here are 7 tips that will help optimize your small group ministry:

  1. Focus your attention on the things that only you can do and delegate everything else, Conduct an audit on your weekly calendar. Whatever you are doing that could be done by someone else, must be delegated. If you don’t have anyone to delegate to, see tips #2 and #3.
  2. Make identifying, recruiting and developing leaders of leaders your number one objective. Start by taking a serious, steely-eyed look at your existing small group leaders. Every super effective small group leader ought to be looked at as a possible coach (a leader of leaders). Anyone who is a sixty or hundred-fold leader and leading a small group of adults (even if there are 20+ members in their group) might actually be misappropriating their capacity on ordinary men or women when they could (and should) be focusing on leaders.
  3. Make identifying and recruiting a volunteer team of men and women who are passionate about small groups part of what you do all the time. Some of the most enthusiastic potential volunteers are not leaders of leaders. If you can’t figure out how to use them, spend an afternoon creating an org chart for your ideal small group ministry. Add positions for every person it would take to maximize your potential. Strapped for administrative help? Add a position or two. Serving as a greeter yourself at your small group connections? Add positions for greeters. Writing discussion questions yourself for your sermon-based study? Recruit a writing team.
  4. Give regular attention to optimizing your next step menu and strategy. A buffet does not lead to more participation. A carefully groomed selection of next steps takes great courage and skillful tact and wisdom. Trimming available options (or at a minimum highlighting only the best next step will yield the highest completion. This cannot be put off. Although it often can only be accomplished with the tenacity and temerity of a political operative, a carefully manicured becoming and belonging menu will maximize the number of adults who get connected.
  5. Eliminate every opportunity to sign up to join a small group. The only sign-ups you should be taking are sign-ups to attend the next event or program that will launch new groups. Every sign-up opportunity that necessitates a contact to arrange a matchmaker function on your part (or anyone on your team) is wasted energy. Edit your connection card to remove “I’d like to join a small group” and add “I’d like to sign up for the small group connection.” Edit your website content to remove matchmaker functions and replace with sign-ups that will ultimately launch new groups.
  6. Focus on launching new groups. Evaluate your menu of connecting opportunities and focus on events and strategies that launch new groups. Everything you are currently doing to add members to existing small groups (i.e., taking sign-ups to join a group, holding small group fairs that repopulate existing groups, editing catalogs or lists of open groups, etc.) are almost always the least effective ways to spend your time. Instead, focus your time and attention on planning and implementing events that launch new groups. The most effective way to connect unconnected people is to give them opportunities to join groups where everyone is new.
  7. Train leaders of existing groups to be always inviting new members to their group. Every group leader will eventually need to add new members. Their best chance of actually adding new members who can break through the nearly impermeable membrane of an existing group is when a leader or a member invites a friend to join their group. Matchmaking is almost always counter-productive. In most cases only the most brazenly extroverted (with the exception of experienced small group participants from other churches or who come from a group that died) will use a small group finder. It is also a seldom acknowledged reality that it is the addition of a brazen outsider that causes the demise of a number of otherwise healthy groups every year.

Further Reading:

Image by C

Take a Look at Max Anders’ Brave New Discipleship

brave new worldI spent some time with a new book from Max Anders that I think you’re going to want to know about. I really stumbled across it as I worked my way through a stack of books that had been submitted as part of Outreach Magazine’s resource of the year project. Hadn’t heard of the book. Was only vaguely familiar with the author, but was very impressed with Brave New Discipleship: Cultivating Scripture-Driven Christians in a Culture-Driven World.

The title is a reference to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in which “he imagined a very unpleasant future resulting not from everything being withheld from us, but from everything being made available to us, regardless of its value.” It is Anders’ observation that Huxley’s vision of the future is coming true and that “twentieth-century models of discipleship will not effectively translate widely into this Brave New World of twenty-first culture (from the introduction).”

In Brave New Discipleship Anders offers a set of 17 principles for discipling others. You can also “use the same principles to disciple yourself.” The principles are presented in short chapters and every chapter includes a set of exercises designed to “increase your memory, understanding, and application of the material in the chapter.”

The 17 principles include what Anders calls “the 7 marks of a complete Christian.” A few examples are, “a complete Christian worships God individually,” “a complete Christian worships God corporately,” and “a complete Christian impacts the world.”

Brave New Discipleship as a stand alone resource is definitely worth adding to your thinking about designing a discipleship pathway that works in the 21st century. There is also a video series that I’ve not seen or had an opportunity to review that might be worth taking a look at.

If you’re looking for resources that will help you build a discipleship pathway, I think you need to take a look at Brave New Discipleship. There are several ideas here that I know you will find helpful.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wanted: Men’s Pastor/Director for Canyon Ridge

5863884809_7dcbcea2e5_zAre you the man for the job? Do you know the man for the job?

We’re looking for the right player to join the Groups team at Canyon Ridge and lead our Men’s “ministry.” It’s a groups position and the best fit will be someone with a minimum of 5 years experience in groups ministry and a passion to help men get connected and grow in Christ. Because of the size of Canyon Ridge (weekend attendance just over 7000), the right candidate will likely be someone leading a groups ministry.

The most important outcome/objective of this position is identifying, recruiting and developing leaders of leaders as our Men’s Life Group grows from 500 men connected to 2000. Another significant outcome is building the teams that will design and develop next steps for every Ridger and first steps for their friends.

Could this be you? You can read more about the role right here.

Could this be someone you know? Why not forward them this post?

Have a question? Email me.

5 Things to Do in January to Connect More in 2016

january calendarWant to connect more people in 2016? There are a few things you can do now to exponentially increase the number you connect.

Here are 5 things to do:

  1. Plan a connecting event in late January. If you run the event on January 31st, you’ll have several weeks to promote it. Use a strategy like a small group connection in order to launch the maximum number of new groups. Small group fairs or other events that add members to existing groups are better than nothing, but don’t come anywhere near connecting the largest number of people for the year. See also, How to Launch Groups Using a Small Group Connection and Here’s How I Lead a Small Group Connection.
  2. Think strategically about the placement of your 101 class. If your 101 class is designed to offer a short list of next steps and you’ve slotted your connection event to follow a week or two later, you have an easy and effective one-two step that leads to more people connected.  At Canyon Ridge we have a 60 minute experience called NEXT that is offered about every 6 weeks. The three next steps that are promoted during NEXT are baptism, an upcoming small group connection (1 or 2 weeks after), and signing up for a back-stage tour designed to expose unconnected people to serving opportunities. See also, How to Design Next Steps and First Steps.
  3. Review your calendar of connecting opportunities for 2016 and make sure you’re offering a well-timed selection. We build in an annual church-wide campaign every fall. We also schedule at least two other major small group connections and one or two opportunities to choose from a strategically selected set of on-campus group experiences that lead to off-campus groups. In all, we try to always have an upcoming opportunity that will connect people who have attended NEXT. See also, How to Build an Annual GroupLife Calendar.
  4. Choose a church-wide campaign for the fall ministry season and begin the planning process for it. The right church-wide campaign run the right way will maximize the number of people connected in new groups. Although a church-wide campaign may fit on the calendar in other seasons, the fall is the best time. See also, How to Choose the Right Church-Wide Campaign.
  5. Take a serious look at offering at least one 6 week on-campus experience that leads to an off-campus group. What we call a base group, offers a smartly selected topic that will appeal to unconnected people. For example, we use Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage to draw unconnected married couples. They’re seated intentionally with other unconnected couples like them (we actually segregate any couples who are already in groups to their own tables). The material almost leads itself but the most natural leaders always emerges by the 3rd week. In week 5 we begin suggesting that if they’d like to continue to meet together off-campus, we’d like to help them. See also, Take Advantage of This Short-Term On-Campus Strategy.

What do you think?  Have a question?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Image by Emma Kate

The Latest on Church-Wide Campaigns – 2016

The Latest On Church-Wide CampaignsSaddleback released the 40 Days of Purpose church-wide campaign in 2002.  Although they had previously launched internal spiritual growth campaigns, this one really was a just-add-water option.  Of course, in 2002 it really was just about the only option.

Today, there are lots of options and there are more all the time.  I’ve reviewed many of them and cataloged them here for your convenience.  How to choose?  I’d highly recommend my article, “How to Choose the Right Church-Wide Campaign.”

The Nearly Complete List of Church-Wide Campaigns (as of 1/5/16)

Note: This list is alphabetical.  In most cases, I’ve linked to my own review of the campaign.

What if you could start 10 times as many new groups-

5 Commitments for This Small Group Pastor

5 COMMITMENTSHave you made any New Year’s resolutions? I’ve made a set of resolutions. I’ve also renewed a set of 5 commitments as a small group pastor.

Here are the 5 commitments I’ve made as a small group pastor:

  1. I will make my own daily, living connection with Jesus Christ a priority—being in community with Him is the foundation for all community. This is truly where it must begin. How can I have any hope of leading anyone where I am not already going personally? Remember, whatever you want to happen at the member level in your system will have to be experienced by the you first.
  2. I will lead an exemplary Christian lifestyle—anyone watching me will see an obedient servant of Jesus Christ growing in maturity. I have a moment-to-moment opportunity to live the life I am proclaiming to others. In the words of Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.” See also, 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader.
  3. I will convene my own small group regularly (2 to 4 times a month). How can I call everyone to life in community if I am not in community?
  4. I will provide personalized care and development for each of my area leaders (staff and volunteer). In order to provide appropriate care at the leader and member levels, I must pay close attention to the care being given to coaches and community leaders. Within the constraints of our span of care, I must do TO and FOR my area leaders (men’s, women’s, couples, etc.) whatever I want them to do TO and FOR the community leaders and coaches for whom they provide care.
  5. I will regularly gather our coaching community for training and encouragement.  We all need to pay attention to the examples of the leaders just ahead of us.  We also need to meet the needs of the leaders just behind us.  Although it is countercultural, we need each other and we are in this together.

While there are other ministry-centric actions and habits that I’m committed to, these five are at the core of what I must commit to as a small group pastor.

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

« Older posts Newer posts »